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Howard homers in Phillies 4-1 win in St. Louis

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[June 20, 2014]  ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Howard plays 81 home games a year, but the Philadelphia first baseman really makes himself at home in his native St. Louis.

In another successful homecoming, Howard homered for the 10th time in 27 regular season games at Busch Stadium and drove in three runs Thursday night as the Phillies kept up their best stretch of the year with a 4-1 win over St. Louis.

Howard lofted a two-run homer just over the left-field wall and just to the right of the foul pole off Shelby Miller with one out in the top of the sixth, giving the Phillies (33-38) a 4-0 lead. It was Howard's 14th homer of the year.

Howard, who started the night's scoring with an RBI single in the fourth, went 2-for-4, upping his career average at Busch to .374 with 38 RBIs.

"It's always good to come back home and play in front of friends and family," he said. "You feed off the crowds here. I guess it's easier for me because I'm back home."

With Howard's big bat backing him up, rookie right-hander David Buchanan (3-3) authored his best start since coming up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley May 24.
 


Buchanan entered the game with a fat 5.97 ERA, but stifled the Cardinals (39-34) on four hits over 7 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out four. Buchanan lost his shutout in the bottom of the eighth when third baseman Matt Carpenter laced a single to right that scored shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

"He was down in the zone and he had two fastballs working," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He had the cutter and the two-seamer both working to both sides of the plate. When he had to make a pitch, it was a quality pitch."

Buchanan had one truly stressful moment in the second inning, giving up consecutive one-out singles to first baseman Matt Adams and catcher Yadier Molina that put runners on the corners.

But Buchanan whiffed Peralta with a high 2-2 fastball and got a lineout from second baseman Kolten Wong. That started a run where Buchanan retired 17 of 18 batters, yielding only a leadoff double to Miller in the sixth.

With the sellout crowd of 42,106 hoping for a comeback, Buchanan got his next three outs on five pitches.

"I've been trying to work on dodging the big inning," Buchanan said. "I kept some balls down and there were plays made behind me. I wanted to go deep into this game and help the bullpen out."

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Closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched a clean ninth inning for his 17th save as the Phillies won for the eighth time in 10 games and notched their first four-game winning streak since taking five straight from June 2-6, 2013.

"It's hard to believe it's been that long," Howard said. "I hope it doesn't take that long for the next one."

Meanwhile, St. Louis lost its second straight after a season-high five-game winning streak and fell 4 1/2 games behind Milwaukee, a 4-1 winner at Arizona, in the National League Central.

Miller (7-6) pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs while walking three and fanning four.

"Up and down," Miller said of his effort. "I thought I did a good job staying ahead of the hitters for the most part and got deep into the game, but I didn't make the best pitches at some points. I left some balls over the middle of the plate."

NOTES: St. Louis decided to skip the turn of RHP Michael Wacha in the rotation, meaning RHP Carlos Martinez will take his second start of the week on Sunday. The Cardinals are skipping Wacha for rest, not injury reasons. ... Philadelphia recalled C Cameron Rupp from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and sent down OF Aaron Altherr to Double-A Reading to make room for Rupp. Backup C Wil Nieves felt a pop in his right quadriceps running out a double Wednesday in Atlanta, and the Phillies want protection in case starter Carlos Ruiz goes down. ... Cardinals RHP Joe Kelly (hamstring) threw a bullpen session Thursday and plans to throw another one this weekend. If that goes well, Kelly could start a rehab assignment next week.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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